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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Anti-Superstition Activist-Writer Shot Dead In Maharashtra. Growing Intolerance?



Narendra Dabholkar
This is exactly why politicians can always exploit religion to divide people and create their vote banks. They know we tend to be dogmatic or intolerant about our religious sentiments, practices and rituals. We are ready to commit even sins to have the first view in temples or any place of worship; we can hardly digest any criticism regarding our beliefs; we take the extreme views as far as our religious practices are concerned. Therefore, superstitious and black magic rituals get mixed with our beliefs. Nobody can convince us of the irrationality inherent in our practices. Result is intolerance and even violence—exactly the way some political parties want us to do.

At 7.30 in the morning today a progressive journalist-writer and social worker, Narendra Dabholkar, was brutally shot dead in Pune, Maharashtra. Narendra Dabholkar was taking a morning walk when two motorcycle borne assassins fired indiscriminately at him and fled leaving him in a pool of blood. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The brutal act was as shocking as it was stunning for the people of a relatively progressive and literate state, Maharashtra and its literally cultural capital Pune.

Narendra Dabholkar was a rationalist at heart and he spent all his life in fighting superstition and black magic in religious beliefs and against all social evils. He founded an organization, played a key role in several mass movements and wrote several books on the subject. His website tells you of his intense thoughts on the subjects. He clarified many times that he was not at all against religions, but against the associated evils. For years he tried to persuade the Government of Maharashtra to pass an anti-superstition and black magic bill in the legislative assembly and for the last seven sessions the Bill was proposed to be presented, but it did not transpire that way. Just before the monsoon session this year the Chief Minister of Maharashtra promised to get the bill passed, but ultimately it was not even presented. Naturally for India, several religious groups and political parties have been opposing the Bill over the years. With the violent end of this noble crusader the fight against social evils suffers a serious setback and the cloud of intolerance and fascism is far from over as we have debated so many times in these pages.

All political parties of Maharashtra are quick to condemn the mindless killing and the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has announced an award of one million rupees to anyone giving clues about the assassins. Investigations are on and sketches of the assassins have been circulated. As per latest reports no suspicion has been cast on any particular group or individuals.

We condemn this cowardly killing and reassert our ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ in a tolerant, rational and understanding India. Let the noble soul of the crusader rest in eternal bliss and his movement continue. Our ardent wish on this Sadbhavana or Goodwill Day today.

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